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Paul & Luiza´s World Tour

Spain - Barcelona, Zaragoza, San Sebastian, Bilbao, Leon, Ponferrada & Santiago de Compostela

SPAIN | Thursday, 25 October 2012 | Views [2187]



Spain – Part III - (Barcelona, Zaragoza, Bilbao, Leon, Ponferreda & Santiago de Compostela) – between tapas & pintxos

So, we leave Kotor, Montenegro, early in the morning for a 2 hour bus ride across the border to the Dubrovnik airport, in Croatia.  It’s a short but quite interesting trip as we came dangerously in close contact with a totally crazy Portuguese woman and her nutcracker Belgium husband. She told me they’ve been on the run for 7 months from the Portuguese justice system as she’s been accused of abusing her daughter and from the French justice system for owing money to the government. She also can’t stop talking and freaks out when realizing Dubrovnik is in another country and immigration comes on the bus to process our passports. It’s a really insane conversation, or more like a monologue, really. We also meet a nice Croatian lady who was “cache hunting” with her husband, never heard of it but living and learning.  Anyway, after this eventful trip we catch a 2 hour Vueling flight to Barcelona to pick up our car at the airport.  We pick up our very stylish silver Skoda sedan and drive away from Barcelona.

First stop, Zaragoza.  It a long drive, the sky is black and it’s raining so much it’s hard to see anything.  We arrive in Zaragoza and it is dark and wet and the city is HUGE, of course we get lost, can’t find our hotel and are saved by the guy from the convenience store at the “gasolinera” who recommends us a nearby hotel.  So, we find the nice Confortel Ramareda and retire for the night to dry out a bit.    

Next morning we go to San Sebastian, another hard drive under torrential rain.  Again we get lost and there’s nobody to ask on the street, again saved by a petrol station convenience store.  We find the Hotel Monte Ulia and retire for the night.  The next morning we go sightseeing and are blown away by the beauty of this place.  The beach, the fantastic heritage buildings, the old city, the endless lanes and churches, the stylish people, fantastic food, definitely worth a second night.  

Next day, we are off to Bilbao to see the fantastic Guggeinheim Museum.  We’ve read about it, seen pictures of it but seeing it up close is just another amazing experience.  Enough said as you can check out our fabulous photos. We finish the day in Leon at the lovely Apartment Campus San Mames, highly recommended.

OK, another long day ahead, we start by sightseeing around lovely Leon and its cute old town with very impressive Cathedral then jump into the car again and drive to Ponferreda to see the gorgeous Knight’s Templar Castle, just great and totally worth the detour. We are in Camino de Santiago territory now and see lots of signs and start to feel the vibe.  We end the day arriving in Santiago de Compostela and checking in at the Hotel Santa Lucia and retire for the night (oh and yes, and the rain ‘s made a comeback). We’ve seen some pilgrims walking the “Camino de Santiago” (Way of St James) under the rain and we are glad we checked the weather forecast and gave up on “the way” as our pilgrimage envy quickly turned into relief as we arrive at our hotel nice and dry. The Way will have to wait for a future trip and better weather.

Next morning we visit the amazing cathedral of Santiago the Compostela, our visit coincides with the midday pilgrim mass and the “incensario” ceremony.  It’s a really moving moment with the pilgrims congratulating themselves and meeting up with fellow travelers, emotions are running high.   We walk around Santiago and take in the sights also taking the opportunity to enjoy our last “menu del dia” before we are off to Portugal.  It is also interesting to note that visiting each region of Spain is like visiting a different country, between the Basque, Galicia, Catalan etc regions it is a diverse array of language, food, and culture.  For example here in Galicia we can speak Portuguese and get away with it…  Anyway, we’ve found our way between tapas and pintxos and we love every little bit of it.  Spain Rocks!   Next stop, Portugal...


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